Livestock judging team headed to nationals
The Lincoln County senior 4-H livestock judging team recently won a ticket to compete in the National Livestock Judging Contest in Denver, Colorado.
The six-member team judged its way to first place at the state level competition held at the Mississippi State University horse park in Starkville in May, winning a spot in the national contest. The team competed against more than 150 4-H students.
Livestock judging consists of two components: placing a group of four animals and orally justifying the decision. Each member of the team has a limited amount of time to analyze a class of animals and place them. The student compares the animals in the class to each other, but also to the ideal animal in that species.
After placing each class, the student must verbally justify their final placing. Relying on their memory of the class, team members present their analyses for each animal to livestock judging experts.
Scores are determined by comparing each student’s placings to those of the official livestock judge. The closer the placing is to the officials, the higher the student scores. Reasons are judged based on the students placing of the class and how well the placing is defended.
Students are placed individually, and then the three best scores are combined to create the team score. Awards are given for the best team scores, the best individual judging score and the best individual oral reasons score.
At the state contest, the senior team consisting of Will Watts, Walker Williams, Rylie Melancon, Jacob Johnson, Claire Posey and Chaney Rutland placed eight classes of livestock and spoke four sets of oral reasons. Classes were made up of cattle, swine, goats and lambs.
Senior team member Will Watts also placed first individually for oral reasons.
The junior 4-H livestock judging team including Whitney Watts, Stran Melancon, Kathryn Johnson and Justin Posey also placed first in their division of the state contest.
The senior livestock judgers look forward to traveling to the Western National Roundup in January to compete in the National 4-H Livestock Judging competition, team parent and coordinator Wendy Watts said.
“They have decided that they not only want to attend this event, but they plan on being the competitive team to beat,” Watts said.
To prepare for the contest, the team attended the MSU livestock judging camp in May and the Colorado State University camp in June, Watts said.
“After their state contest win, the team was invited by the MSU livestock judging coach Brett Crow to practice with the MSU livestock judging team this fall,” Watts said. “We have plans to work with other livestock judging specialists and to attend more judging camps up until January.”
The six students meet every week to work on placing livestock and giving reasons to improve their skills, Watts said.
“The hope is that the kids will be better prepared through all of the extra camps and practices that we will continue to attend until the contest in January,” she said. “We know with hard work and a little luck our Mississippi team can finish big.”